Indigenous Knowledge Support Platform
March 06, 2011 | Posted by Mathe | Filed under General

Every community has a culture that binds it together. The culture can be viewed as a tool for survival. It embodies the people's past, their way of doing things and their interactions. Hence, understanding the culture of any community is important for its growth and development.

Indigenous knowledge can facilitate this understanding. By definition, indigenous knowledge describes knowledge that local people in a given place or community have developed over time and continue to develop as part of their survival. This means that this knowledge is not static. It is dynamic and changes continuously based on local environmental conditions or any other factor that impacts on the community. For this reason, indigenous knowledge covers diverse areas of human development that include agricultural practices, healthcare and education.

The diversity that is incorporated into indigenous knowledge makes it a valuable resource for development endeavours. With this in mind, a platform for capturing and sharing indigenous knowledge is proposed for Dwesa, a rural community in the Eastern Cape. The platform will be based on proven standards to provide a flexible solution that supports storage (preservation) and dissemination in a way that is appropriate to this type of knowledge and target users. Further, the platform will use Knowledge Management techniques to, for example, implement multiple views to the stored knowledge. The views are intended to provide context needed for supporting initiatives that will allow the community to make use of their local natural environment as a resource.

To demonstrate the use of the proposed platform, a system will be built that integrates African indigenous knowledge into sections of the current school curriculum. This system will offer examples and activities aligned to the curriculum via customisable multimodal interfaces to accommodate user's needs - and perhaps abilities.

Overall, an important dimension for the platform is that it will leverage significantly on the field of Knowledge Management. As a field, Knowledge Management draws on a wide range of disciplines and technologies to bring out the necessary dynamics of knowledge in its application as a resource for decision making. Therefore, its use with indigenous knowledge in a rural context, will pave a way for creating more systems for social innovation and for supporting ethnocomputing - interactions between computing and culture. From this perspective, the use of Knowledge Management to capture, preserve and disseminate indigenous knowledge is novel.

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